In the 18th mile of the Boston Marathon, Diana Kipyokei of Kenya made a decisive move to take the lead, held the advantage through the Newton hills, and broke the tape on Boylston Street in 2:24:45.
Edna Kiplagat, the 2017 Boston champion, made a late charge, but she couldn’t close the gap on Kipyokei. She finished second in 2:25:09, and Mary Ngugi of Kenya was third in 2:25:20.
Although she was challenged for three miles approaching Heartbreak Hill by Netsanet Gudeta of Ethiopia, Kipyokei held firm in her first appearance at a World Marathon Major race. She takes home the top prize of $150,000. Kiplagat earns $75,000 for second, and Ngugi earns $40,000 for third.
Monicah Ngige of Kenya was fourth in 2:25:32, and Gudeta faded to fifth in 2:26:09, which was still a three-minute personal best for her.
Kipyokei said she was surprised by her victory. Her previous marathons included a win in Istanbul in 2020, and a third-place finish in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in 2019.
Nell Rojas, 33, of Boulder, Colorado, was the top American, finishing sixth in 2:27:12. On a day with humidity of 88 percent, Rojas, a former professional triathlete, ran a personal best by 57 seconds.
A pack of 14 women were together through the half marathon, which they reached in 1:14:11. The top eight finishers all ran negative splits. Rojas was in the lead pack until Kipyokei made her move at 17 miles.
Rojas was the lone top-10 finisher for the American women. Elaina Tabb ran a strong debut, finishing 12th in 2:30:33. Dakotah Lindwurm was 13th in 2:31:04.
“Definitely this is the biggest running accomplishment that I have,” Rojas said of her sixth-place finish. She had previously won Grandma’s Marathon in 2019 in Duluth, Minnesota, and finished ninth at the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials.
“I didn’t expect that race at all,” she said. “I’m relatively new to marathons; that was my fourth. They’ve all gone extremely different. For some reason, I was expecting this one to go out fast and be able to hang on to the back of the pack, which is what I always do. Somehow I ended up leading the first half of the race, which I never do. That was interesting for me.”
At age 41, second-place finisher Kiplagat set a masters course record at Boston, breaking the previous best of 2:27:58 by more than two and a half minutes.
“I’m trying to stay in the sport for more years to come,” Kiplagat said. “The sport has been a passion...I want to stay in this sport so I can still motivate the younger ones.”
Sarah Lorge Butler is a writer and editor living in Eugene, Oregon, and her stories about the sport, its trends, and fascinating individuals have appeared in Runner’s World since 2005. She is the author of two popular fitness books, Run Your Butt Off! and Walk Your Butt Off!